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Title: Aldo Rossi, architecture and the nature of memory
Authors: Hennessy, Sinead
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis poses the question of the nature of Aldo Rossi’s (1931–97) approach to memory within his built and written work; and also of the particular cultural, political, economic, and intellectual conditions under which his understanding of memory emerged. Material drawn from archives at the CCA in Montreal, the MAXXI in Rome, and numerous other sources, was cross-referenced against Rossi’s sketches, built, and written work. In examining the aesthetic and symbolic devices in Rossi’s architecture emphasis is placed on his interest in cinema and photography, and particularly on his conceptualisation of architecture as theatre. Equally, Rossi’s understanding of memory is examined in relation to influences exerted by cultural and other conditions within Italy. Attention is also focussed on the ‘embeddedness’ of history and memory in Italian culture, and their importance in relation to the Italian city. The thesis investigates whether Walter Benjamin’s highly inclusive notion of the Denkbild, or thought-image, provides a framework for an understanding of the role of memory in Rossi’s work and, for example, his ability to embody both aesthetic and social meanings in his architecture. It examines whether Rossi can be said to engage memory by exposing, and often exaggerating, the essential characteristics of what is familiar. It also looks to how those characteristics are handled under the umbrella of Rossi’s interest in architecture as theatre, and his view of artefacts as actors that project meanings related to memory. Ultimately, Rossi’s approach to memory is exposed by means of a detailed examination of the individual aesthetic and symbolic devices in his architecture, and his ability to utilise ‘memory values’ inherent in those devices.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

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